27 Apr Content That Resonates Best From Executives on Social Media
Many brands today have a social media presence and more executives are seeing the value of being online as well. As a part of a brand’s marketing strategy, executives on social media can be an impactful driving force when it comes to accomplishing business goals. The most effective executive social media accounts are the ones that can stand on its own, while also complementing the brand’s overall marketing strategy. In other words, these are executives who post their own content rather than retweeting or copying every post from the main brand account.
In this article, we analyze content tone and topics that resonate best when delivered on an executive’s social media account rather than the general brand account. Digital marketers can use these differences to develop their own social media strategy that is more holistic in its approach.
Brands versus Executives on Social Media: Who Should Deliver the Message?
When marketers ask themselves whether marketing material should be delivered on the brand account or through an executive’s account, one of the key questions to keep in mind is this: Does a particular post or message require a human element?
For example, consider a social media post about a product going on sale for a week versus a social media post acknowledging a disaster or other serious event. For certain messaging, adding a human element results in a post that resonates more with users as they are able to make an emotional connection.
We have provided some tips below for the type of content that would be better suited for an executive’s social media versus a brand’s social media account. Of course, this is not necessarily a list of topics marketers “can’t” post on either brand or executive social media accounts, but consider it a general recommendation based on the tone of voice and the purpose of having an individual convey the message.
These days, on Sunday mornings I've been "attending" church by Zoom-ing in from my couch. But I'm dreaming of some of my favorite European churchgoing experiences. And near the top of the list is the organ loft at Paris' St. Sulpice. https://t.co/uqsji0zFMW pic.twitter.com/DdJ2nv8uWr
— Rick Steves (@RickSteves) April 19, 2020
Content Tone that Resonate Best From Executives on Social Media
One of the immediate differences between a brand account and an executive’s social media presence is that the latter features an identifiable individual, while the former is a general, faceless account. Users do not know who is operating a brand account, but content posted on an executive’s account can be attributed to them.
Certain tones of voice seem more authentic when it is delivered by an executive. These include gratitude, gratefulness, empathy, sorrow, and inspiration. In other words, when digital marketers are dealing with content with strong or more nuanced emotions, having an individual deliver the message makes it more effective in getting across these human sentiments.
On the other hand, depending on the content posted, there are some tones that can be a good fit for both brand and executive accounts. Some examples include humor, formal, casual, and knowledgeable tones. These are more general content tones relating to personality, rather than emphasizing emotional sentiments.
Because some tones fit individuals more than general brand accounts, this allows digital marketers to extend their marketing strategy and develop different messaging with different tones for both the brand and the executive’s account.
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— Tim Cook (@tim_cook) April 15, 2020
Focusing on executives, there are other reasons why certain marketing material is more effective when delivered by an individual. For example, many executives use “I” or “we” which makes much more sense than a general brand account using it. In the case of Apple’s CEO, Tim Cook, he uses “we” to signify a united action consisting of his brand and himself. This type of language can help strengthen an executive’s actions and their connection to their brand. It also effectively humanizes the brand by attaching it to a public face.
Types of Content that Resonate Best From Executives on Social Media
Moving on from the tone of the post, let us look at the actual content or topic of the post. For many brand accounts, the strategy is to primarily focus on their product or service offerings, with secondary focus on other brand-related content. Some common topics we see on brand accounts include:
- Product or service launches and updates
- Limited time promotions or price reductions
- Activities the brand is engaging in as a company (e.g. the business is donating X% of its earnings to charity)
Moving on to executives, here are some common content types that resonate best when delivered from an executive on social media:
Behind-the-scenes or Personal Brand-Related Content:
While this is also good content for general brand accounts, certain brand-related topics are more effective when delivered by the executive as it makes them seem more up-to-date with what is happening within their company. The executive seems more involved rather than being a “hands-off” leader.
For example, when executives post about the positive work culture at their company, this comes across as being more authentic because even though they may be a higher-level employee, they still share the same work culture as everyone else. When this type of messaging is delivered through a general brand account, it may seem inauthentic and can be construed as “corporate speak.” There are other benefits to having an executive speak about what goes on at their company. As we mentioned in one of our previous articles, How Executives on Social Media Can Attract Top Talent, executives on social media can be a powerful recruitment tool for their company.
While a product launch is a common topic for brand accounts, major product launches can also be shared by executives, as seen in Tim Cook’s tweet above.
Another example is when an executive is engaging in an activity or event, whether on behalf of the brand or not. This type of content can be posted on both the brand’s social media account to help humanize the brand and the executive’s account to build brand awareness.
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Content that Aligns with the Executive’s Personal Content
Every executive on social media has their own strategy that informs the type of content they post. We have covered many top-level executives, such as Stephen Kelly and Anand Mahindra, both of whom post very different content. Regardless of their tone, a common strategy many executives have is to share reputable third-party articles about topics that interest them. It is a way to share knowledge, interesting content that may interest their followers, and gives users insight into what the exec finds interesting or valuable. For example, we have seen CEOs post articles about how to be a more effective leader, articles about a social issue they are involved in, and so on.
Digital marketers should consider what their executive is known for and think about whether the messaging aligns better with their personal content or the brand’s content. For example, if an executive is passionate about environmental issues, have them share your company’s latest initiatives to fight against climate change.
Content that Does Not Fit the Brand’s Social Media Strategy
While executives on social media can help drive business goals, at times, their tone or content may not align with the brand’s overall social media strategy. This can be beneficial for digital marketers as they can implement more diverse messaging into the brand’s overall strategy. Marketing messaging will seem more authentic coming from an account where the tone is a better fit. One example is where the brand may have a more formal tone while the executive has a more casual tone in their content. This includes Tesla versus Elon Musk’s personal account, and T-Mobile compared to John Legere’s content.
As we mentioned earlier, content that is meant to provoke a strong emotion or connection with the audience can be more effectively delivered by an individual, rather than a faceless brand account. People connect more to messaging that is delivered by a person they can relate to.
In recent times, many CEOs and high-level executives are using social media to address the general public directly through open letters and videos. Videos in particular are very effective at adding a human element to the messaging as the executive is speaking directly to the viewer.
Communication During a Crisis
Along the same lines, communication during a crisis needs to be handled carefully. As we have seen during the COVID-19 pandemic, having an executive deliver the content makes it more personal. Even for those who are not on social media, many are penning letters that are sent out through emails to those who subscribe to the brand’s email. Many executives are taking center stage when it comes to delivering news about their business, such as how they are addressing the coronavirus, how the crisis impacts the company, and the company’s next steps.
When crucial messaging is delivered by an individual, it shows strong leadership within the company, how they are taking initiative, and that they are empathizing with the difficult situation.
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— Satya Nadella (@satyanadella) April 14, 2020
Executive social media is a powerful marketing tool that allows marketers to go beyond what their brand account would normally post. It is another way to reach audiences through more personal content delivered by an individual. At times, the content posted to the brand account may also be an effective fit on the executive’s own account. While brand marketing is a key area for many digital marketers, executive social media requires a much different approach that emphasizes content that resonates with other social media users.
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